I’ve always been interested in sex and sexuality, which quickly developed into a more nuanced understanding of power, and how it plays out in interpersonal relationships and our relationship with the state.
When I was 18, I started training at an Old Guard BDSM House in Upstate New York. It was there that I gained embodied knowledge of BDSM practices as well as a deep understanding of the use and misuse of power in D/s dynamics—and other relationships. I have worked as a professional dominatrix in New York City for over ten years. I have taught on BDSM, trauma, and ritual at places like New Women’s Space, The Eulenspiegel Society, The Alt Sex Conference, and most major NYC teaching hospitals.
While working as a dominatrix, I continued studying BDSM in academic settings. Sex work supported my work as a community organizer. Sex work supported my more formal education as I went on to receive my Master’s in Public Health from a New York State University.
In 2018, I co-founded Hacking//Hustling with Melissa Gira Grant, which is a sex worker collective working to interrupt state surveillance and violence facilitated by technology. For the first year, Hacking//Hustling was funded entirely by our members’ direct labor in the sex trades. In 2020, we received our first round of funding from Open Society Foundation to put on the first ever Sex Worker Village at the Internet Freedom Festival (postponed due to COVID-19).
Through my work with Hacking//Hustling, I have helped organize sex worker-led convenings at Harvard and Eyebeam, and spoken at institutions such as Data & Society, The Hannah Ardent Center at Bard University, and Case Western Law School.
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“Among so many people that are struggling to make technology more equitable, there are few people that do it with as much panache as Mistress Danielle Blunt. She is one of the founders of Hacking//Hustling. She isn’t afraid of letting her (sex work and tech organizing) efforts spill over to the other. She brazenly challenges respectability politics, no matter how large or stuffy the institution she finds herself in. She refuses to draw discrete boundaries between theoretical technology activism and the material impacts that the most marginalized communities face.
When she curates space, she does so mindful of including those least traditionally represented. There are few people on this planet that are as well equipped to subvert the toxic power dynamic that Big Technology imposes on so many of us. Blunt can look at a system like that, pinpoint the weak spots, and leverage the right tools to exploit them. She knows that any system can be hacked, and any system can be hustled. Lucky for us, Blunt does both with a spirit of generosity.”-Daly Barnett, staff technologist at the EFF.
“Blunt is, to put it mildly, a powerhouse. Blunt and Hacking//Hustling produced a full, day-long conference at Harvard last year. They curated an amazing group of people, and skillfully moderated a fantastic and diverse group of talks.
Blunt is truly fantastic at building bridges between sex workers and tech folks—literally, I write after we just got off a panel she participated in on section 230, where she talked about the necessity of centering marginalized folks in tech policy work. Hacking//Hustling has produced some of the only sex worker-focused material on EARN IT, one of the new 230 reform bills.
I have learned so much from her about navigating systems, using platforms, and how to organize.”Kendra Albert, clinical instructor at the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society
“I am so moved and excited by the ways in which you frame your work in the context of initiation rites, trauma engagement and healing, and psychological/spiritual work. I’ve been working with these ideas since my own mental health crisis/initiation, and it felt like my understanding deepened in a really sudden and intense way when I found your work.”Anonymous
“I connect with how you hold many different epistemologies, drawing from lived experience, academic theory, therapeutic modalities, yoga, BDSM, and community organizing. I see how your work cuts quickly to the ideas and experiences that I keep stalking around from so many different frameworks. Through your consultations, I have developed a better approach to understanding power dynamics and how they impact my work.”Anonymous